This scene was still as nauseating and panic inducing as it had ever been.
Where were that famous “fight or flight” mechanisms when you need them?
One switched on the survival mode. Business smiles, automatic pseudo-empathic nods, and polite chuckles in response to (bad) jokes were handed out generously that, at one point, trying to contain a hysterical laughter was almost impossible. One managed to, just barely, hang on to sanity on the thought that this ordeal would be over soon.
Of course, it was over some time later. But one had fallen prey to it once more. Racing with the coming onslaught of exhaustion that usually followed this mental juggling, one headed straight to the nearest sanctuary. One found a corner and collapsed.
As one’s head hit the wooden floor and eyes closed, before one’s mind shut down completely, one thing came crystal clear that day, though. It turned out one had never really recovered after all.